The voices of doom and decline say that high-speed rail cannot be built in California. They’ve tried to stop the forces of progress by calling high-speed rail “a boondoggle” and “a waste.” This is not a new phenomenon. Enemies of progress said the same thing about the Golden Gate Bridge, built in the middle of the Great Depression. They screamed “boondoggle” at every major public works project in the 20th century while California was constructing a world-class infrastructure of freeways, dams, bridges and aqueducts that fostered a golden age of middle-class growth.
The labor movement rejects the voices of doom, because we have a vision for California. We know it’s time to invest in California’s future, starting with construction of high-speed rail.
Wednesday, the voices of progress and investment won a significant victory — Governor Brown signed SB 1029 to fund construction of a high-speed rail system. This is the first significant commitment of funds for construction and acquisition of the high-speed rail project. The investment of $4.7 billion in bond funding authorized by voters in 2008 will be matched by $7.9 billion in federal and local dollars.
As California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski said on the day SB 1029 passed the legislature:
By releasing voter-approved bonds, the legislature rejected the voices of doom and decline that want to take California backward. Instead, today’s vote will lead to hundreds of thousands of quality jobs, an easing of traffic congestion and a cleaner environment. Today’s vote was a boost of confidence in the spirit of California, a spirit that built everything from the Golden Gate Bridge to the dams and aqueducts that bring our cities water. For California to be a world leader again, we must invest in our future. With this vote, we’re on the right track.
California’s investment in high-speed rail will create hundreds of thousands of construction jobs across the state, while at the same time improving local and regional rail systems and providing relief from traffic gridlock in urban areas.
Some of the early investments include billions of dollars for improvements in Northern California:
- SFMUNI – Central Subway extension;
- Caltrain – Electrification;
- BART – Millbrae Station Track Improvement and purchase of new train cars;
- Caltrans (Amtrak) – Capitol Corridor, Oakland to San Jose Track Improvement;
- Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCVTA) – Caltrain Advanced Signal System;
And in Southern California:
- Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) – Regional Connector Transit Corridor;
- Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) – New or Improved Locomotives/Cars;
- San Diego MTS – Blue Line Light Rail improvements;
- North County Transit District (NCTD) – Positive Train Control.
In addition, $6 billion will be invested into the spine of the high-speed rail in the Central Valley, creating desperately needed jobs and linking the fast-growing rural areas to cities in the North and South.
Today, the forces for investment, economic recovery and progress beat back the naysayers. Governor Brown’s signature on this historic bill furthers the vision of high speed rail and reclaims California’s historic role as an economic and technological leader.